Prison Fellowship Ministries
Prison Fellowship Ministries (PFM) are a collection of organizations that originated from the efforts of former Richard Nixon aide Chuck Colson, after Colson finished his prison sentence for Watergate-related offenses in 1974. While the original focus was Christian outreach to prisoners, the scope has broadened both to the overall criminal justice system and to general standards of Christian life. In 2006, Colson, while remaining on the Board of Directors, turned the chair over to Michael Timmis. Former Virginia Attorney General Mark Earley is President and CEO.
While some of the programs claim impressive results, there are legal complexities due to the U.S. Constitutional requirement for separation of church and state.
The Fellowship proper consists of:
- In-prison seminars and Bible studies—Prison Fellowship (1976) supports volunteers in conducting Bible studies, seminars, and other events in prisons in all 50 states.
- Prison Fellowship International (1979) Global association of national Prison Fellowship organizations
- Angel Tree® (1982)—assists the children and families of prisoners
- Justice Fellowship (1983), aimed at policy-level reform of the criminal justice system, including victim healing, offender accountability, reconciliation, and community growth.
- InnerChange Freedom Initiative® (IFI), beginning in 1997, going beyond in-prison events to faith-based rehabilitation programs in prisons and in a community reentry facility. The appropriateness of this relationship was challenged by Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU), joined by the Anti-Defamation League and American Jewish Committee, initially in the Iowa state courts in February 2003, and eventually in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit; part of the challenge in Americans United for Separation of Church & State v. Prison Fellowship Ministries (also known as Ashburn v. Mapes) succeeded and part was reversed. IFI chose not to appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States, and, in a settlement agreement, paid AU's attorney fees. Iowa terminated the IFI program in March 2008.
These programs are not aimed directly at prisoners.
- Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview "Our mission is to seek the transformation of believers as they apply biblical thinking to all of life, enabling them to transform their communities through the grace and truth of Jesus Christ. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print"
- BreakPoint Commentary: Colson and Earley's commentary news, from a Biblical perspective.
- ThePoint: Early's discussion about culture, again from a Biblical standpoint; a blog supplements the radio programming
- Centurions Program: an intensive Bible study program
- BreakPoint.org—a Web site that serves as a resource for viewing topics with a Biblical perspective.
- BreakPoint WorldView Magazine—features commentaries by Chuck Colson and Mark Earley as well as articles written by established worldview writers
- Prison Fellowship and BreakPoint: A Timeline, DeMoss News
- Brief Amicus Curiae of Anti-Defamation League and American Jewish Committee on Behalf of Plaintiff-Appellees, supporting Affirmance, 22 November 2006
- Americans United for Separation of Church & State v. Prison Fellowship Ministriess/Ashburn v. Mapes, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, 18 September 2009
- About Us, Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview